The draft-minded Golden State Warriors hosted the reeling Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night, but the biggest story line of the night involved the halftime events. Chris Mullin played 13 seasons for the Golden State Warriors and then served as GM for spell, but he finally (and rightfully) became the sixth player in team history to have his jersey number retired. The ceremony took place during halftime, and Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Don Nelson were among those in attendance to rekindle the magic of the Run TMC era. David Lee posted 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a strong performance, but Kevin Love stole the show and the game with 36 points on 13-23 shooting and 17 rebounds as Minnesota won 97-93.
The ceremony was the most interesting event of the night, despite a pretty solid game. Things got uncomfortable and a bit ugly when majority owner Joe Lacob grabbed the mic, as Warriors fans rained down boos and forced Mullin to save the day by interjecting himself again. Warriors faithful are presumably still disgruntled about Lacob's role in the decision to trade away beloved shooting guard Monta Ellis to acquire Andrew Bogut, but it was the wrong time to voice displeasure. As Rick Barry tried to defend Lacob while the jeers swelled in Oracle Arena, Barry challenged the crowd, saying: "This is crazy. Seriously. You are doing yourself a disservice." Indeed they did. To steal the moment from Mullin with classless behavior was inexcusable for the fans, but to Lacob's credit, he returned to his court side seat for the second half. Watch the debacle unfold:
After the game, Lacob had this to say (via Mark Spears of Yahoo! Sports):
"The fans are upset I guess that we traded one of our favorites. That's all I can attribute that to. What I feel bad about is they kind of ruined a night that was very special. The organization really tried to do the right thing with Chris."
As for the actual game, the Warriors held starting point guard Stephen Curry out of the lineup for the fifth-straight game with a sprained ankle, so that meant yet another spot start for Nate Robinson. Recall that the Warriors owe their first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the Utah Jazz, but it is top-seven protected, and then re-assess the Nate Robinson spot start. It might help.
Robinson got off to a very slow start and never really made a positive impact. His first half featured a 1-5 shooting performance, just one assist and bad defense -- counterpart Luke Ridnour pumped in nine points on 4-5 shooting and dished out six assists during that same span. Klay Thompson suffered through a terrible start too, as he missed his first six shots and allowed Wesley Johnson to rattle off eight points on 3-4 shooting. David Lee and Kevin Love led the offense for their respective teams, but the two stretch bigs basically played to a draw. The Wolves grabbed a 14-point lead heading into intermission because no other GSW player could hit a shot (they shot 33.3 percent as a team).
The offense came around for Golden State in the third quarter to the tune of 54.5 percent shooting, 10 assists and zero turnovers. David Lee hit five of his six looks for 11 points and Klay Thompson turned things around by finally getting on the board with 12 points on 5-9 accuracy. Minnesota's lead eroded because everyone in a blue jersey not named Kevin Love shot 3-11. When the final period started, Anthony Tolliver stepped up and helped Love out.
Tolliver came out of nowhere to hit a few threes, throw down a few dunks and cause a bit of chaos on the glass. He scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter and grabbed four of his five rebounds to give Love a bit of relief. Every possession down the stretch ran directly though Love, and he responded with 12 more points and five more rebounds in the fourth quarter to close out the game and push his totals to eye-popping levels with 36 points and 17 rebounds. Love proved too much for David Lee to handle in a barrage of late-game post isolations, but as mentioned above, the Warriors can't be too upset about the outcome.
As a final point, the Warriors TV crew on CSN-Bay Area shared a terrific anecdote about Wolves rookie Derrick Williams during the second quarter. Apparently the Wolves' coaching staff introduced the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft to them as "Errick Williams" because he failed to play any "D" on Sunday in Minnesota's loss to the Kings. Tough love. Williams did grab a career-high 11 rebounds in the win, but good thing he didn't have an "O" in his name, because that would be long gone too after a 2-9 showing with a team-high four turnovers.
Then again, nobody came away from Minnesota's previous game with a good feeling. Frustration boiled over in an argument between Kevin Love and J.J. Barea on the bench that almost came to blows during a timeout in that frustrating 16-point loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday (video of the scuffle is here). Things smoothed out in this road win against the Warriors, as Barea dished out a season-high 10 assists and Love dominated to earn his 39th double-double this season.